KSA: Deadline extended to 16 February 2022 for business licensing fraud offenders to legalize their status

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KSA – August 24, 2021:

Saudi Arabia has extended the grace period for business licensing fraud offenders to legalize their status to 16 February, 2022.

The period provides multiple options for violators by exempting those who apply to the Ministry of Trade to request rectification of their legal status from penalties and from paying income tax retroactively.

Dr. Majid Al Qasabi, Minister of Commerce, said the extension reflects the Kingdom’s keenness to provide the opportunity to more businesses to correct their legal status. A number of large and medium-sized firms, whose annual revenues exceeded more than 6 billion riyals, have benefited from the amnesty so far.

Anyone arrested by the ministry for committing a crime or violating the anti-business licensing fraud law before submitting a request to rectify their situation, or whoever was referred to the Public Prosecution, or the competent court, is not exempt.

Violators of the anti-concealment system can rectify their legal status by submitting an application through the Ministry of Commerce website

Applicants will have several options, including:

  • Introducing a new legal partner (Saudi or non-Saudi);
  • Selling, assigning or dissolving the business;
  • Transferring the ownership of the business to a non-Saudi after the latter obtains an investment license;
  • A non-Saudi can apply for a distinct residence visa, or an investment license to continue business;
  • Apply for final exit.

Saudi Arabia has tightened penalties for business licensing fraud, also known as Tasattur or cover-ups, in which foreign nationals owning businesses in the kingdom use the names of Saudi citizens. A new anti-business licensing fraud regime passed by the Saudi Cabinet seeks to eliminate the shadow economy and includes tough penalties for offenders of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to SR 5 million.

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